Livonia mayor to focus on his health at end of term

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Livonia Mayor Dennis Wright.

Livonia — After a decade of serving Livonia as an elected official, Mayor Dennis Wright has decided not to seek re-election to focus on his health.

Wright, elected in 2015, is living with Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that hinders his movement. However, looking back, he's proud of how far Livonia has come and said his replacement has major issues to tackle.

"I love to have the chance to be able to help people. ... I just wanted to make things better for people in Livonia," he said. "That’s everything from roads and streetlights to new businesses and houses. However, I do not want to commit to four more years, knowing that I will need to focus more on my health."

Before being elected mayor, Wright served eight years as Livonia city treasurer and, prior to that, was longtime owner of Wright’s Hardware in Livonia. He has served in numerous volunteer roles, including coach, director and president of the Livonia Junior Athletic League and founding member of the Livonia Kids & Families program.

Wright said he's proud of the work his administration was able to accomplish from opening the Bicentennial Dog Park to redeveloping the long-closed GM plant on Amrhein and Eckles into Amazon and Republic National Distribution facilities. 

"We moved two old GM plants into the 21st century and now have them operating at full capacity," he said. "The city has three new hotels and we’ll have more," adding that 150 new homes have been built or are in the works.  

He said teaming up with local businesses played a big role in the city's success. 

"I’ve been amazed at how many Livonia businesses are willing to support the community. St. Mary Mercy Hospital funded our Healthy Livonia project. Masco is lead supporter of our Vietnam Moving Wall project. There’s Alpha USA, Roush Performance, the list goes on. When you call, they’re there."

He said several "community eyesores" were removed and replaced, including the old Chi Chi’s site, which is now an Aldi Supermarket, an old Farmer Jack and Builders Square, which is now LA Fitness, and Cloverlanes, which is being replaced by Clover Self Storage. 

While Wright wishes he could continue to work on paving the city's future, he said the next mayor, who will take office in 2020, will need to prioritize infrastructure and public safety.

"We need to continue to improve and rebuild our infrastructure, including fixing the damn roads," he said. "We are going to pave the parking lot at Greenmead. We will need to modernize our Rec Center and we need to attract and retain the best employees, especially public safety."

For Wright, he will continue being a resident of Livonia and plans to help others as long as he can. 

"I’m hoping to do more charity work because I know how important it is," he said.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_